It had often been a formality on day three as Big Buck’s careered up the Cheltenham hill to land the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, but this year it would be a new name etched into the staying hurdle crown and it was the Irish-trained Solwhit that stormed to victory for Charles Byrnes and send the bookmakers into raptures, as the well-backed Oscar Whisky failed to fire at any point.
Big Buck’s may have not been taking part in this year’s renewal, but for a brief moment the crowds must’ve believed the four-times winner was in fact in the race, as 40/1 outsider Celestial Halo, donning the famous black, red and white of The Stewart Family cruised into the front turning for home and looking like he would keep the crown in Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat stable.
However, Paul Carberry was stalking him into the straight on the multiple Grade One winner Solwhit, who was another tackling three miles for the first time and when Celestial Halo blundered at the last, it was left to Solwhit, who has the scalp of Hurricane Fly on his CV, that quickened clear and went on to land the spoils at 17/2 to notch another for the Irish, who are having a sparkling festival.
Punters had assumed they would gain the day’s money with a straightforward win for Dynaste, who was sent off an 11/8 jolly for the Jewson Novices’ Chase, but the David Pipe-trained grey struggled to last home in the closing stages and it was Bryan Cooper on board 20/1 shot Benefficient who raced up the hill to land the emerging jockey his first win at meeting.
With the Irish having notched an early win on the board, all the Euros had been piled into First Lieutenant in the Ryanair Chase, but former Champion Bumper winner Cue Card was there to show his class and under a superb Joe Tizzard ride, the 7/2 second favourite dominated from start to finish to bag second winner of the week for Colin Tizzard amidst jubilant scenes in the Gloucestershire stands.
The bookmakers may have already filled their satchels, but things got better and better throughout the day with 25/1 Holywell handing Richie McLernon his first win at the festival for Jonjo O’Neill in the Pertemps Final at 2:05pm, whilst Carrickboy continued a day for the rags as Venetia Williams’ 50/1 shot Carrickboy produced a superb front-running display to land the Byrne Group Plate.
Nigel Twiston-Davies then ventured into the winner’s enclosure for the second time this week as Ryan Hatch rode an absolute peach of a ride to win the Kim Muir Challenge Cup on board 16/1 raider Same Difference, who held off 6/1 favourite Super Duty, with Big Shu completing a stunning day for the bookies with a 14/1 success in the Cross Country Handicap Chase.